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Dissertation Abstract

An Exploratory Study of Leadership Perspectives of Bar Association Presidents in the Commonwealth of Virginia

John P. Cancelleri
June 2007

This study explored the leadership perspectives of 15 Virginia Bar Association presidents. Each president was interviewed and asked a series of questions that related to five leadership aspects: skills associated with being an effective lawyer, skills associated with being an effective leader, leadership challenges, leadership development, and leadership training. The interviews were taped, transcribed, coded, and formatted into various tables. Follow-up interviews were then conducted with each president. During these interviews, each president was asked to rank the top responses received for each of the five leadership aspects. The results indicated that bar presidents demonstrate leadership skills and abilities that the average attorney does not. The results also revealed that bar presidents acquired their leadership abilities mostly through life, on-the-job training, and the process itself of becoming a bar president. Responses from the presidents were also compared to the five leadership behaviors discussed in Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) The Leadership Challenge. Similarities were observed between Kouzes and Posner’s leadership behaviors and examples of how the presidents demonstrated leadership. While few presidents had knowledge about leadership theories, many noted that such knowledge could have enhanced their experience.